Like almost everyone, I struggle with anxiety and attaining my goals. I attempt to be efficient with my time management and live a balanced life. I would assume that everyone is trying to do the same thing. But it seems like the anxiety is always there and we find ourselves not attaining our goals. The same problems keep popping up.
That is one reason why self-help books are popular. They offer answers on how to reduce anxiety and effectively plan your goals. I have not read that many and I have no idea which ones are a waste of time or helpful. Yet I have read one that I did not expect to help me. That book is "The Way of the Seal" by Mark Divine.
Mark Divine is a former Navy SEAL. The chapters in the book are numbered based off of eight principles for leading, living and planning in your life. At one point I would have thought "no offense, but what does a highly-trained soldier have to teach me about my own life issues and struggles." One of my closest friends listens to another former SEAL by the name of Jocko Willink, who has an online podcast. My friend's lifestyle and mindset changed for the best as he continued listening to it. He was more positive and motivated to take on the day. This made me more willing to read Divine's book when I received it as a Christmas present.
I have read through the whole book once and am now rereading it. What this former SEAL had to offer stunned me. Most of the struggles he had through life I related to. Specifically, I had a tendency to get fearful of stepping out of my comfort zone and taking risks. I also was very pessimistic about the future and potential scenarios. The one that I connected to most was how anxiety clouds judgment in a situation where one needs a clear mind to react. My point is that I related more to this man than I would have thought.
Divine shares stories from his own experience and people that he has met. They can range from hilarious to life or death situations. He also references famous leaders and ancient warrior groups (like the Spartans or Apache). Through it all, he stresses the practice of meditation, making positive thinking a habit, and winning in your mind in order to win the battle. I know that meditation gets associated with eastern religions, but Divine's meditations are not religious in nature. They relieve stress and help one to clear their mind. In fact, for me as a Christian, I have adapted these meditations to my religious living and it has helped me to grow in my beliefs. But if you just use meditation solely the way Divine recommends, it is not a religion. Look at it as a regular exercise to improve mental health. Divine also suggests ways to transform negative thoughts into positive ones that motivate you to make it through the day. This is probably the one I have struggled with the most. But his ideas work and I am implementing these practices into my lifestyle.
Another big theme of his book is on being an effective leader and making your group or organization successful. This is one that I have yet to implement in my life since I am not established in a long term career yet. But I plan on it since his suggestions on mental health and lifestyle have helped me significantly. I find myself less anxious about my life, especially with all of the transitions every college student experiences. I have more peace and contentment. I have learned to create my own personal schedule so that I devote enough time to school and to stress-relieving activities.
I am not saying that I have perfectly mastered all of the principles in the book. Yet the wisdom I have gained from it has changed me for the best. The one change I have observed in myself is that I have taken more risks in my life. Even though those decisions may cause criticism, it is liberating to make them. Fear no longer weighs me down as much as it has in my life. What is interesting is that this book came into my life at a perfect time, which makes me believe it was not a coincidence. I would go so far as to say that God brought this book to me. I have never met Mark Divine in person. If I do, I will tell him how much his book impacted me and that I am now striving to earn my personal trident every day. I hope that one year from now, my character and behavior will show others the benefits of the Way of the SEAL.